Devastating budget cuts coming

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Legislative leaders call the decisions painful

Now the fun part begins. Former state Rep. John Mershon of Alamogordo isn’t with us anymore but that’s what the conservative finance chairman would say right now as state lawmakers begin to wrestle with devastating budget cuts.
Two years ago lawmakers implemented the easy cuts, raiding our hefty reserves, removing unused money from capital outlay projects and searching out hidden slush funds throughout state government.
Last year, it got more serious.
A hiring freeze began reducing the number of state employees.
Unpaid furlough days brought millions more into state coffers.
And then across-the-board cuts were made to all agencies.
Now it is time for the truly painful decisions about which programs are expendable and how to get the most out of each taxpayer dollar.
Legislative leaders, even the most conservative, call the decisions painful.
But I’ll bet in their private thoughts, these leaders are echoing Rep. Mershon’s sentiments that now the quest for government efficiency can really begin.
And it has begun, no more so than in the newly created Government Restructuring Task Force. This group, composed of legislative leaders and retired state budget experts, has a grueling schedule that began in April and ends on Dec. 31.

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